Morgan wins in wrestling quarterfinal but delays euphoria

  • Article by: BRIAN STENSAAS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: March 3, 2012 - 2:14 AM

The Forest Lake senior eventually shed his poker face after ousting three-time 3A champion Dakota Trom.

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Ben Morgan of Forest Lake drove shoulder first into Dakota Trom of Apple Valley in a showdown of ranked 132-pounders in the 3A quarterfinals on Friday.

Photo: Marlin Levison, Startribune Staff Photo

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There was no yelp of celebration. No fist pumps. Not even a "heck yeah."

Ben Morgan celebrated his 132-pound Class 3A quarterfinal victory Friday evening like it was the first of his season-long journey. Definitely not as if the Forest Lake senior's 7-2 decision over three-time state champion Dakota Trom of Apple Valley cleared the biggest hurdle toward another title of his own.

At least, that was the scene in front of the Xcel Energy Center crowd.

Turns out it was an act. Away from view, Morgan stopped a postmatch jog to express his delight.

And there was plenty.

"I kind of lied to everybody; I was super nervous," Morgan said. "But once that whistle blew ..."

Morgan blinked, and it was if he were back in the heat of battle.

"You know, when it's wrestling there's no bats, no iron hoops, no footballs, no touchdowns," he said. "[It's] two forces, two people colliding. Two people coming together to see whose might is stronger. It's up to one guy to pick the other guy up and slam him on the mat, man."

So, yeah. He was pretty amped.

Morgan, rated No. 1 in Class 3A at 132, started his match with No. 2 Trom as the aggressor. He scored a takedown with 45 seconds left in the first period then earned a pair of bonus back points for a 4-0 lead.

Morgan slowed a bit and eventually yielded a point for stalling late in the second period. After an escape in the third, a takedown with 15 seconds to go in the match locked it up.

"He wrestled hard and hung on for good position," Rangers coach Billy Pierce said. "Unfortunately it's a quarterfinal match. I wish for Minnesota wrestling it was a finals match. Two great Minnesota wrestlers ranked nationally, it'd been nice to have that as a finals match. But you have to wrestle it sometime."

Morgan, a Nebraska recruit, defeated Trom 5-3 at the Minnesota Christmas Tournament in December. He won a state title at 112 as an eighth-grader and has placed third at state every year since.

Back-to-back Brancales

A good bit of the nervous energy circulating through the arena early in Saturday's semifinals will come from Eden Prairie's Brancale family.

Freshman Ben Brancale and senior Sam Brancale flexed their way into the semifinals with a pin and a major decision, respectively, at 120 and 126 pounds.

"He helps motivate me," the younger brother said.

Ben Brancale did not place at 112 pounds a year ago. Sam Brancale was the state champ at 103 as a sophomore but settled for third at 119 last year. He lost to eventual champ Mitch Bengtson in the quarterfinals.

With two victories at 126 on Friday, Bengtson improved his state-record winning streak to 178 in a row.

They would face each other in the finals.

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